How to Make Brown Butter

Sliced ButterHow to Make Brown Butter

Okay, so in yesterday’s post How to Melt Butter, I talked about the fact that for the next several weeks, I am going to concentrate on going over culinary fundamentals.  I really want to cover the basics of cooking, and in doing so, equip all the home cooks out there with the skillz to understand what I (and other food writers) are talking about when we write recipes and to make absolutely glorious food.

And to prove that I wasn’t afraid to really get back to brass tacks, I started the series off with How to Melt Butter.  Today, I want to crank up the level of difficulty a shade or two and talk about how to make brown butter. 

I wanted to do something a little more advanced for a couple of reasons.  First (and most importantly), making brown butter riffs off melting butter.  But I also wanted to show practical applications of various techniques that we discuss.   This should keep things interesting and arm you, o gentle readers, with some extra knowledge in the kitchen.

How to Make Brown Butter

Tools: Knife, pan, wooden spoon

Ingredients: 1 stick of butter, 3-4 leaves of a fresh herbs, preferrably sage (optional)

Goal: Turn a rectangular stick of butter into butter puddle

The Trick: Melt the butter evenly (not necessarily quickly) and cook it so that it just smells nutty.

The Plan:

Step 1-5: See How to Melt Butter, but leave the skillet on the heat and leave the stove on medium.

Step 6: Continue cooking the butter until it just starts to smell nutty.  This will probably take no more than 30 additional seconds.  If you can’t smell very well, wait 30 seconds.  If the butter turns the color of amber ale or a light wooden table, it’s ready.

Step 7: (optional) Toss in the fresh herbs.  They will immediately sizzle and fry in the butter.  Stir them around the pan once or twice.  This will be enough to impart their flavor into the butter.  Note: I like sage-brown butter sauce as a quick flavor boost to gnocchi and ravioli.   Of course, if you are making brown butter to add to a dessert or something, definitely omit this step.

Step 8: Take the skillet off the heat and skim off any foam from the brown butter.  After that, you should be ready for the next  step in your recipe!

Okay, it’s that simple.  Enjoy!

Thanks to jessicafm for the picture.


  1. It’s funny how many people that I’ve met who don’t even know what browned butter is! I grew up with “macaronies and brown butter” as the main side dish in any meal that had mashed potatoes. Carb lovers much? My aunt used to sprinkle a bit of white flour in with the butter to get little crispy bits that stick to whatever you’re pouring the butter onto. 🙂

Leave a Reply